Inside Whoopi Goldberg’s EGOT and Her ’30 Rock’ Inside Joke

Whoopi Goldberg is a female pioneer of stand-up comedy, sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in the business. Her role in The Color Purple launched her acting career, and she went on to become one of the biggest and most respected celebrities in the entertainment industry.

Most people are familiar with Goldberg’s work in the films Ghost and Sister Act and her role as the co-host of Comic Relief with Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. In 1994, she became the first Black woman to be the sole host of the Academy Awards ceremony and hosted it three times after that.

Whoopi Goldberg smiling
Whoopi Goldberg | Jenny Anderson/Getty Images

In 2007, Goldberg replaced Rosie O’Donnell as the moderator for the ABC television talk show, The View. She still remains in her long-running position as a host on the award-winning program.

The Nobody’s Fool actor is the first female recipient of the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and has won the NAACP Black Entertainer of the Year Award. With so many accomplishments over a career that has spanned four decades, many people don’t realize the talented performer is an EGOT.

Who are the 16 EGOT winners?

An EGOT is a familiar term in entertainment industry circles. It refers to an elite group of performers that have had the distinct honor of winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award.

Philip Michael Thomas of Miami Vice fame coined the term in 1985. According to Mental Floss, the actor wore a necklace with the letters E, G, O, and T that he claimed stood for energy, growth, opportunity, and talent.

When the actor appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, it became clear the initials were indicative of the actor’s lofty goals to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Thomas never received any of these coveted awards, but he is credited with creating the pop-culture concept.

There are only 16 people as of 2022 that have accomplished the feat, and Goldberg is an honored member of the distinguished group. Other notable recipients include Rita Moreno, Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Mel Brooks, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Musician John Legend joined the talented club in 2018 after receiving an Emmy Award for his role in the television variety special Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.

The other EGOT winners include Richard Rodgers, Helen Hayes, John Gielgud, Jonathan Tunick, Mike Nichols, Scott Rudin, Robert Lopez, Tim Rice, and Alan Menken.

How did Goldberg win the EGOT?

The 66-year-old comedian received her first award in 1985, winning a Grammy for Best Comedy Recording of Whoopi Goldberg – Original Broadway Show Recording. In 1990, she became the second Black woman to receive an Oscar. Goldberg won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the acclaimed film Ghost with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.

In 2002, Goldberg won two awards, an Emmy for her role as host of Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel and a Tony for co-producing the Best Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie.

The Soapdish actor reflected on her 40 years in the industry with Variety, saying she is most proud of the fact, “I’m still here. I didn’t fade away. I didn’t disappear. I’m still here and still doing me.”

Whoopi was in on the ’30 Rock’ inside joke

Goldberg told Variety that comedian Tracy Morgan introduced her to the obscure acronym in an episode of 30 Rock, saying, “That was the first time I was made aware that I was an EGOT winner.”

The storyline of the NBC comedy series featured Morgan’s character turning to Goldberg for advice on how to become an EGOT winner himself. Wearing a replica of the necklace worn by Thomas in the ’80s, Morgan gets into a debate with the Jumpin’ Jack Flash actor, asking her if the Emmy should count since it’s a Daytime Emmy Award.

Goldberg, who was in on the joke, replied, “It still counts. Girl’s gotta eat!”

Related: Why John Legend’s EGOT Is Such a Big Deal